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Becoming a Progressive

Friday, 30 October, 2020 - 12:45 pm

After Zeta’s first eyewall passed over us there was a period of intense calm within the eye of the storm until the second one arrived. As we are surrounded by the chaos of so many disturbances, Zeta, Covid, the elections, the economy and whatever else may be churning up your life right now, we need to find that place that can function as the eye of the storm, within which there is intense calm. That niche is generated by our faith in G-d that somehow all of this is for the best and we are in His hands.

Yesterday morning I was outside surveying the area around our home and a neighbor passed by. Of course, we got talking about Zeta and how busy this hurricane season has been. She is an academic with a background in linguistics. She jokingly observed that people think Zeta is the last letter of the Alphabet because of the Z, but it is an early letter in the Greek alphabet. I said that for those of us that read Hebrew we know that Zeta is like the Zayin and there are many more letters to go. We both laughed and emphatically expressed the hope that we are not going to read it that way with this year’s storm names.

With the elections looming this week, there is a lot of talk about progressives. What does it mean to be a progressive? The Torah’s definition of a progressive comes from the opening verse in this week’s Torah portion. But first an intro from Zachariah 3:7. There is a contrast between Mehalech (one who walks) and Omed (one who stands). Chassidus interprets that verse in the following manner. Omed refers to angels. They are called stagnant, or those who stand, not because they don’t move, but because they do not progress. As they are created so they remain. Mehalech refers to the soul of man. We have the potential for growth and progress. How does one live up to the moniker of Mehalech?

In this week’s Parsha, G-d tell Avraham, “Lech Lecha – walk, go, progress to you.” That is a strange instruction. Go to you? How do you go to yourself? The Rebbe explains that Lech Lecha is Hashem telling Avraham to become who he really is, a Mehalech, a progressive. There are two thrusts in this journey of becoming a progressive. One involves self-discovery – identifying the G-dly speak within us and channeling that power into serious growth and development. The other thrust is applying your self-discovery into change that benefits others and advances Hashem’s plan.

We have been a nation of Torah true progressives for nearly 4,000 years now. Just a little further and we will propel our world over the threshold of redemption!!

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom – a Shabbat a good health, safety, (hopefully electricity,) and tranquility!

Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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